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CONTRIBUTED Mark and Vicky Swindle pose with their motorcycle after participating in the Trail of Tears ride Sept. 21.

Local couple takes part in Trail of Tears motorcycle ride

For almost 20 years, Mark and Vicky Swindle have loaded up their motorcycle each fall and head toward Bridgeport to join the thousands of others who participate in the annual Trail of Tears ride.

Mark, a retired officer from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, said this year he and Vicky were in the first 50 motorcycles.

“It’s always a fun, nice ride, but it’s even better whenever you get a chance to honor part of your heritage,” Mark said.

Mark said he and Vicky left Friday, spending the night in Scottsboro before attending the festival at Natural Bridge for the Trail of Tears. He said in the entire weekend, the couple covered more than 400 miles.

He said their involvement in the Trail of Tears began at Vicky’s suggestion. They bought a motorcycle and have been riding in the Trail of Tears ever since.

Mark said over the years, he has gotten to meet a lot of people who travel from all over the country to participate.

“My favorite part is getting to see people from everywhere come together and enjoy the ride from Bridgeport down to Waterloo,” Mark said.

He said one of the men he met this year had an amputated leg and had a special compartment on his motorcycle to hold his crutches.

“That was just really inspiring to me because I think that is something everyone can learn from – that it doesn’t matter what life throws at you because you can find a way to persevere,” Mark said. “I hope nothing like that ever happens to me, but I hope that if it did, I would be able to make the best of it like that.”

He said he also loves seeing people come out and support by waving flags and smiling at all of the riders.

“I love being a part of this, and it is something I look forward to every year,” he added. “I can’t wait to ride again next year.”